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Ottawa, Ontario
Thursday, April 22, 2021

Disc Golf 101

What is Disc Golf?

Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, however, players use a flying disc or Frisbees®. The sport was formalized in the 1970’s, and shares with “ball golf” the object of completing each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, the fewest number of throws).

Video By: Best Disc Golf Discs. More excellent disc golf videos are available on the Best Disc Golf Discs

A golf disc is thrown from a tee pad to a target that is the “hole”. The hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets, the most common of which is called a Pole Hole®, which is an elevated metal basket. As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive shot from the position where the previous throw landed. The trees, shrubs, and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide unique and challenging obstacles for the golfer on every throw.

Finally, the putt lands in the basket and the hole is completed. In making your shots, it is common to use discs that have different throwing characteristics. Some are good for long open drives, others for mid-range shots and others for when the target is located out of sight around a large obstacle. Disc golfers generally carry at least three discs with them – one for the initial drive, a shorter and more accurate approach or mid-range disc for their second shot, and a special putting disc to earn at least par on the hole. However, as you get more involved you will see the advantages of owning more discs for other specialized situations, such as water hazards, heavy wind, and unforeseen obstacles.

Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it’s sinking a long putt or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway. There are a few differences, though. Disc golf rarely requires a green fee, you probably won’t need to rent a cart, and you will never get stuck with a bad “tee time.” It is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages, male and female, regardless of economic status.

Who Plays Disc Golf?

Four of our local golfers enjoying a round and hike at Camp Fortune.

Disc golf can be played from school age to old age, making it the one of the greatest lifetime fitness sports available. Specially-abled and disabled golfers participate, giving them the opportunity to take part in a mainstream activity. Since disc golf is so easy to learn (but difficult to master) no one is excluded. Players merely match their pace to their capabilities and proceed from there. The Professional Disc Golf Association, with over 20,000 members, is the governing body for the sport, and sanctions competitive events for men and women of every skill level from novice to professional.

Currently, there are over 1,540 disc golf courses in over 20 countries across the planet, including Australia, Sweden, Japan, and Peru. Practically every province and state in Canada and the USA has at least one well-established disc golf course. In the summer months, the Camp Fortune ski hill is turned into a disc golf course that challenges the countries best disc golfers. The Ottawa Disc Golf Club expects to help facilitate the development of other courses in the National Capital Region within the next few years and has already started with 9-hole courses now existing in Kanata.

Where Can I Play Disc Golf?

Many city parks have golf courses already set up. The Ottawa region now has 3 permanent public courses and private course:

Geoff showing off his forehand skills at the Plaid Jacket

Public Courses

Private Courses

  • Ettyville Superspin
  • Philips Screwdriver Course
  • The Shire
  • The Alcove

One of the great features disc golf shares with traditional golf is that they are both played in beautiful settings.  A nine-hole disc golf course can be established on as little as five acres of land, and a championship-caliber 18-hole course on 30 to 40 acres.  Disc golf courses can co-exist with existing park facilities and activity areas.  The ideal location combines wooded and open terrains and a variety of topographical changes.

What are the Rules?

Players can play the game by understanding only a few basic concepts.  Those who want a complete version of the rules can see the online version of the PDGA Rulebook for themselves.

Why Should I Play Disc Golf?

Disc Golf from Joe Canali on Vimeo.

The ongoing fitness boom finds more and more people taking up recreational activities in an effort to improve health and quality of life.  Disc golf provides upper and lower body conditioning, aerobic exercise, and promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities that allow very little risk of physical injury.  Players of limited fitness levels can start slowly and gradually increase their level of play as fitness improves.  Scheduling is also flexible; a round takes one to two hours and may be played alone, eliminating the difficulty of scheduling tee times, or in groups of up to six people.  Disc golf offers year-round fitness, even in rain or snow.  Perhaps the greatest attribute of the sport is the expense – or rather, the lack of it.  A professional quality disc costs less than $15, and it only takes one for basic play.

Local golfer, Chris Landry demonstrating a proper follow thru during a round at Vincent Massey Park.

Both disc golf and ball golf are relaxing sports, offering an opportunity to get out in the fresh air, a chance to meet up and talk, develop some friendly rivalry, and also enjoy the social scene it generates.  One of the advantages of disc golf is its relative simplicity and its appeal to both sexes, all ages and to players of all abilities.  It possesses an addictive playing quality that continues to drive people to play and play.  There is no strict dress code for disc golf, casual is cool..  Playing equipment is very simple, the discs are easy to throw and inexpensive.  Naturally, beyond any other consideration, there’s the sheer fun of the game – no matter what your age or skill level!